Utah Jazz at Los Angeles Lakers
Tuesday December 27th, 8:30 p.m.
TV: TNT; Radio: 1320-AM
LOS ANGELES — Tonight is the long-overdue 2011-12 season-opener for the Utah Jazz.
But it's much more than that — and not just because the Los Angeles Lakers are their hosts.
This TNT-televised Staples Center showdown also marks the beginning of a new era for many players, coaches and even the team.
New years always offer a clean slate, savvy veteran Raja Bell pointed out.
And, the 12th-year guard added, "Every season's its own animal."
Thank goodness, right?
After one wounded beast of a season, Jazz fans know a post-lockout makeover is needed in Utah even more desperately than the Wasatch Front could use an inversion-cleansing snowstorm.
The perennial playoff team is coming off of a season with grimy and grim memories in which the franchise lost its backbone coach, its only star player, its usual spot in the playoffs and, really, its identity as an NBA team.
Breathe in deep, Jazzland.
This is second-chance time.
Fresh. Start. Now.
"(Our) 8-20 finish at the end of the season and not making the playoffs was not satisfactory to us, and we want to build on that," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. "We don't want to go into this season thinking about everything that went wrong last year. It's a new start."
In more ways than one.
Utah management, which surprisingly saw the end of the Jerry Sloan and Deron Williams eras last season, added two players to the roster who are looking to revive their NBA careers.
Veterans Josh Howard and Jamaal Tinsley, and their somewhat checkered pasts, have been irrelevant or out of the league for a couple of seasons. Nobody anticipates a redo more than they do.
"Any time you get another chance to play in the NBA, it's a second chance," said Tinsley, who didn't play last year after six seasons in Indiana and a short Memphis stint. "I still have some legs in me to be a professional athlete at this type of level."
"We're all coming into this thing new, looking for great things," added Howard, a former All-Star who's bounced back from a knee injury and controversial times in Dallas. "We've just got to be ready to pay attention to detail and perform on the court."
They aren't the only Jazz members trying to get back on the NBA map.
Point guard Devin Harris hopes to regain his All-Star success after struggling to fit in with Utah following his midseason trade from New Jersey.
Center Al Jefferson wants to prove he can put up big numbers and become a solid two-way player for a winning team.
Guard Raja Bell wasn't fully satisfied with his return to Utah last season. C.J. Miles is on a quest to find consistency. Forward Paul Millsap continues to face questions about whether or not he is a legitimate starting power forward.
Corbin's head-coaching career got off to an unexpected and bumpy start, which included an eight-game losing streak.
And the Jazz saw a mighty fine 27-13 record turn into a 39-43 mess and a historical nosedive that foiled playoff plans.
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